The Social Security Quiz.
How Much Do You Know?
How much do you know about Social Security? Below, we have a Social Security Quiz to test your knowledge of the basics.
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All of the answers to the Social Security quiz are True or False. Click the arrow in the corner to reveal the correct answer.
If you begin your Social Security benefits early, there are discounts. Benefits get reduced by 5/9 of 1% the first 36 months and 5/12 of 1% for each additional month.
If your normal retirement age is 67, and you begin Social Security at age 62, you will see a 30% discount.
If you are younger than your full retirement age and continue working, there is an earnings limit. If you exceed that earnings limit, your benefits get reduced $1 for every $2 over the limit. The earnings limit adjusts each year for inflation. The limit for 2021 is $18,960. If you continue working after you start your Social Security, you need to be aware of this.
The first reason is your cost-of-living adjustment. Social Security has built-in inflation increases. In most years, your Social Security benefit will increase.
There are other ways your Social Security benefits might change. If you are the lower-earning spouse, you may start your benefits early. The higher-earning spouse continues to work and does not collect benefits. The lower-earning spouse collects benefits based on their own earnings history. When the higher-earning spouse retires, this may trigger a spousal benefit.
If your spouse has been a homemaker and has not had a job, they will still get Social Security benefits. Your spouse can claim benefits on your earnings record. If they have reached full retirement age, their benefit is half of your benefit.
This might also apply if your spouse worked in a non-covered job. Examples of this include working for the city, a schoolteacher, or the state of Ohio. Those employees do not pay into Social Security. Instead, they pay into their own retirement plan.
If your spouse is covered by one of those plans, you need to know about the Government Pension Offset (GPO). That prevents your spouse from collecting the full spousal benefit. In fact, the GPO may reduce their Social Security benefit to zero.
You will receive one survivor benefit. The survivor benefit is the highest of the two payments.
This is one reason we talk to people about delaying their Social Security benefits. The longer you wait, the more you improve the survivor benefit for the lower-earning spouse.
Social Security taxes collected from our paychecks go into the general Social Security trust fund. They use this fund to pay all benefits to all recipients. Any surplus money can be used by the federal government to help pay for other projects.
Politicians talked about setting up individual accounts or putting the funds in a “lockbox.” This has not happened yet. Until they change the law, all money received from taxes goes to the Social Security trust fund.
If you were born in 1954, your normal retirement age is 66. If you were born between 1955 and 1959, your full retirement age is between 66 and 2 months, and 66 and 10 months. If you were born in 1960, or later, your full retirement age is 67. This helps determine early retirement discounts and delayed retirement credits.
Some rules apply:
- You were married to that person for at least 10 years.
- The divorce happened more than 2 years ago.
- You have not remarried.
- Your ex-spouse and you are both 62-years old.
You might receive a spousal benefit based on your former spouse’s earnings history. If your own earnings record creates a better Social Security benefit, you will not need the spousal benefit.
The Social Security trust fund projects to run a deficit in the year 2035. The trustees project benefit payments to be more than what they project to receive in payroll taxes. When this happens, they are only allowed to pay out as much as they receive.
The current projected shortfall is about 20%. If changes aren’t made before this time, everyone faces a 20% cut to their benefits.
See also: How to Fix Social Security
Delayed retirement credits stop at age 70. A delayed retirement credit is a “bonus” you get for delaying your Social Security after your full retirement age. Each year you delay your benefits after full retirement age results in an 8% larger payment.
If your full retirement age is 67, waiting until age 70 means your benefits will be 24% higher. If your normal retirement age is 66, waiting to age 70 means your Social Security benefits will be 32% higher.
How Did You Do?
How did you score on our Social Security quiz? Only 3% of the people who took the MassMutual poll answered all the questions correctly. Did you ace it, or is there still more work to do? If you have questions about how Social Security can impact your retirement, be sure to check with a financial planner you know and trust.
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About the Author
Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors. He specializes in helping hard working, middle class families plan for retirement.